Posted on 29 October 2010.
If you read our articles on the training for our Centenary Race to the South Pole or the upcoming Polar Challenge, you’ll notice that we talk about learning how to handle a ‘pulk’.
A pulk is a small sledge designed with a low centre of gravity to hold supplies and be easy to pull across the snow. There is some debate about where the word originates, with some authorities suggesting it has its roots in the Norwegian Lapland ‘pulkha’ for sledge while others plump for the Sami word ‘bulke’. What is clear is that its physical origins are in the Arctic regions of Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
Pulks Are Spreading
The pulk’s simple design and its suitability for being pulled by a skier have seen it adapted for almost all snow-covered landscapes. They’re even used by Alpine rescue teams, as I know to my cost. A few years ago, I damaged my knee in a skiing accident. I was strapped into a pulk and brought down the mountain behind a rescue skier. The pulk’s rigid construction – which makes it so easy to pull – combined with the icy conditions and the speed of the descent, meant that I felt every bump and actually broke two ribs before we reached the bottom. That certainly took my mind off the pain in my knee. Our race competitors will not be riding in their pulks!
The main benefit of the pulk, of course, is that it takes what you need to carry off your back. Where early Polar explorers tried to adapt small life boats from their expedition ships to use as sledges across the ice and snow, later more successful teams began to copy the techniques used by peoples living in the more extreme conditions. Pulks soon became a key component of any expedition to either North or South Pole.
Build Your Own Pulk
Modern pulks use a plastic base, which helps keep down the weight, as well as making them fairly cheap to build. Many explorers and people living in places with suitable winter conditions build their own. If you feel like having a go at building your own pulk, visit SkiPulk and download Ed Bouffard’s pdf pulk book, which tells you everything you need to know about what goes into building a successful pulk.
Posted in Extreme Headlines, The Human Races, training
Posted on 21 September 2010.
On December 14th 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. He had beaten the British team led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott by 33 days.
One hundred years later – to the day – the EWR Centenary Race to the South Pole will begin.
Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of that epic Antarctic race between Scott and Amundsen, the EWR Centenary Race to the South Pole is organised by Extreme World Races and will see teams from Britain and Norway joined by competitors from around the world. Competitors will have the chance to battle to the Pole and lay claim to the winners’ trophy in the latest incarnation of the toughest endurance race on the planet.
Antarctic Conditions To Test The Toughest Competitor
Between December 2011 and mid February 2012, the competitors will negotiate multiple crevasses, cross snow bridges, and climb to 3000m on the high polar plateau. To make it just a little more arduous, they’ll do all this as they face winds up to 80mph and temperatures as low as -40C in their battle for survival along the 704km route. This is the ultimate extreme endurance race and it’s set in the stunning landscape of one of the coldest, driest, and highest deserts on the planet.
Follow From The Safety Of Your Own Base Hut
Obviously, the next best thing to being there yourself is following closely the competitors who are tackling the challenge first hand.
Each competitor is fitted with a tracking device and they will check in via regular live satellite phone calls. The progress of all participating teams will be updated hourly on the EWR website.
After the race is run (and won), a documentary will be aired on TV. (The actual transmission date is yet to be confirmed, so keep checking back. We hope to announce dates for transmission in early 2011.)
Posted in 2011. Race to the Pole. Scott v Amundsen Centenary, Extreme Races, South Pole